J500 Media and the Environment

On the up and up by marisabreg

It’s a difficult thing to resolve the needs of workers for decent work, the needs of a (failing) economy and the needs of our climate in crisis, right?

Well… maybe not.

Like Matt and Alex, I’m working as part of the labor group and had the opportunity to speak with Emil Ramirez, assistant to the director of the United Steelworkers, District 11 (Steelworker Heartland) earlier this week. With Matt and Alex, we’re looking at the relationship between labor (workers, leaders, etcetera) and the climate – especially green/clean energy.

I spoke with Emil about “green collar” jobs, the connection between the environment and the economy and communication, among other things. One of the things Emil told me a bit about is the Blue Green Alliance, an association between the USW and the Sierra Club that focuses on climate disruption and clean energy, fair trade and reducing emissions.

The Blue Green Alliance is one of a number of national groups that have initiatives dedicated to clean energy and “green collar’ jobs.

To name a few, the Center for American Progress has a Green Recovery Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy; Van JonesGreen for All has a Green Jobs Now initiative to build an inclusive green economy with an emphasis on fighting poverty; and of course, Al Gore’s We Campaign.

All of these organizations are coordinating efforts to show that good jobs, the economy and the environment are not mutually exclusive. With the right efforts and response, the U.S. (and Kansas) can create/modify decent jobs with the climate in mind.

Marisa B.


3 Comments so far
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I love reading about community ideas/groups that promote grassroots involvement, positive change in difficult situations and tackle several problems with one solution (fighting poverty and helping the environment through job creation). Even the cynic in me gets a little inspired.

I enjoyed scanning the UNEP report you linked and reading some of the projections for green job growth. (I was surprised how dominant they expect the biofuel job sector to be compared to solar and wind.) I also began to wonder what impact our growing recession and national debt will have on that growth. Right now green practices, conversions and efforts are, on average, very expensive. If companies, government agencies, consumers and nonprofits tighten their budgets, what will happen to our fledging green economy? Do you think a recession will slow it down?


Comment by cherileb

Thanks so much for your comment Cheri.

It is inspiring, isn’t it? When people come together with such a positive purpose, I think the energy becomes contagious! It also just makes so much sense, don’t you think? Not only are they proposing positive change for several problems with one solution, it’s also a relatively simple solution.

In response to your questions about the ability to execute these initiatives with the wayward economy looming over us, I have no doubt that it will have an effect. If anything, I think it has the very real potential to become an excuse to abandon and/or shelve what could be/are, really important changes. I think some of the perspective Jeni Rogers presented to us on getting buy-in will play an important role in presenting programs so that ideas and initiatives can be seen as, ideally, recession-proof.

Comment by marisabreg

Great links and post. I did a Q&A with Van last week in Massachusetts. His book is stellar. One of the key points he raises is the need to bring everyone on board for these efforts. That is what I find most compelling about green-collar efforts. It is one of the most proactive steps to help people who didn’t necessarily identify themselves as “green” see how they fit into the picture.

Comment by j500

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